Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ouch I got a Stitch while Running! WHY?

Summary of Post
I sometimes get a stitch in my side while running and wondered WHY?! I DON'T LIKE! I'm sure everyone here has kena before. Here's what might help.

"The docs like to call it 'Exercise-related Transient Abdominal Pain' (ETAP) because 'side stitch' is too easy" (Pam Perdue)

The Physiology of a Stitch
A stitch is when your diaphragm (a muscle separating your lungs from your guts and organs) SPASMS. A stitch actually feels more like a hunting knife being plunged bloodthirstily into one's side. There's no blood externally, but you gotta wonder if something awful is going on in there where the sun don't shine. Good news is, nobody seems to have died from a stitch yet.

The diaphragm moves down when you take a breath, and moves up when you exhale. Your guts and organs are attached to the diaphragm. When I am running, it's all a big jostling mess inside, even though on the outside I look quite cool ahem. The Liver – a heavyweight hitched to the right side of the diaphragm – is what you can blame for the Right Side Stitch, the side most runners get it. As you breathe out, your diaphragm moves up, but those pesky guts (what are they good for anyway) pull down on it. Even worse if you are The Type (like me) that breathes out while the right foot hits the ground. I received enlightenment today that my breathing actually synchronizes with my stride, that is, I always exhale on the same right leg. It's amazing what nuggets of wisdom pick-up-able from surfing the World Wide Web.

Formula for Right Side Stitch = Exhale while landing on right foot = Diaphragm moves up + Liver on right side of body moves down = Right Side Stitch.

Un-Stitch Me!
I found these tips from J. Johnson extremely useful:
  1. Belly breathe instead of taking shallow breaths. So the diaphragm lowers right down and the ligaments (that attach your guts to the diaphragm) can relax.
  2. Switch up your 'footedness' and exhale as the left foot hits the ground instead of favoring the right foot. Give chance to the left foot la. There are less weighty guts stuck to the diaphragm on the left side.
  3. Don’t run on a full tummy. Heavy stomach from that large super supreme pizza, nasi lemak and char koay teow equals more strain on your diaphragm. 
Here's to stitch-free running y'all! Please feel free to leave a comment and/or additional tips on preventing stitches at the end of this post. Peace!

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